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Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher [Unabridged] [Paperback]

by Judy Willis
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 2006 1416603700 978-1416603702 1ST
Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning is the first book for educators written by an author who is both a neurologist and a classroom teacher. Dr. Willis used her neurology expertise to examine the past two decades of learning-centered brain research. Using her background and experience as a clinical neurologist and neuroscience researcher, she sifted through the abundance of neuroimaging and brain mapping information. She assessed what information was both valid and relevant to education. She then employed her training and experience as a classroom teacher to provide strategies for implementing the best of this research in the classroom. She brings this knowledge to life in a comprehensive and accessible style.

Teachers will be introduced to strategies that will work in their own classrooms. These strategies will help teachers improve student memory, learning, and test-taking success. Teachers will also learn how to captivate and hold students’ attention.

Dr. Willis takes a reader-friendly approach to neuroscience, describing instructional strategies that are adaptable for grades K through 12. Through statistical data, individual student stories, and her own experiences using these strategies with elementary and middle school students, Dr. Willis provides teachers with a wealth of information they will want to start using in their classrooms before finishing the book.

The book includes learning strategies that have come from research about how stress and emotion affect learning. Willis describes assessment techniques that not only assess authentically and with diversity, but also teach while assessing. This book will become one that teachers will return to again and again to pick up new strategies to make their own.


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Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher + Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Dr. Willis is a unique blend of common sense, humor and brains, a rarity being both a "brain" doctor, and a classroom teacher. With this book I have my own neurologist/teacher in my classroom. --Surprise Your Brain: Buy this book! J.Brown

I thought I would use the book as a reference, but when I started reading I read  cover to cover. It a book that you read, then are able to use the strategies presented immediately. --Jules Zimmer, Dean Emeritis, U of CA, Grad Sch Education

This book is really making me rethink the way I teach. The book gives you an awareness of how the brain works and how the brain remembers. I highly recommend it. --Midwest Book Review

Dr. Willis presents very practical yet eye-opening details on how to engage students before you have even begun your lesson. Dr Willis has changed my teaching forever. --You knew that it was true, but this book explains why, Sean Kelly

This book helped me find the missing pieces of the puzzle. I don't usually read my mom's books but I read this one. It is interesting and fun to read. --Hope is on every page - A Kid's Review

From the Back Cover

Invaluable supplement to enhancing maximum effectiveness

Midwest Book Review

Board-certified neurologist and middle school teacher Judy Willis, M.D. presents Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning, a guide for K-12 educators that combines the latest findings of learning-centered brain research with practical experience in the classroom. The result is a resource for helping students achieve their full academic potential that covers memory, learning, and test-taking success; strategies to corner student attention; how to mitigate the negative effects and draw benefits from the positive effects of stress and emotion in learning; and much more. A glossary, bibliography for further reading, and index round out this invaluable supplement to enhancing one's grade school curriculum for maximum effectiveness.

Treasure-packed remarkable resource

Dr. Lawrence May

 Dr Judy Willis has written an excellent book for helping teachers understand how to teach in ways that engage students' brains and lead to deeper learning. The short text is easy to understand, yet filled with valuable information for teachers.

Teachers must constantly make decisions about which teaching method to use at any given point. Complicating the decision-making, however, is the plethora of methods from which teachers may choose, and the fact that proponents of so many different methods claim to have scientific research to support their ideas. Nevertheless, the task of choosing might be a little easier after reading Willis's book. While many texts focus on advising teachers how to implement a specific teaching strategy, Willis focuses on helping teachers understand how the human brain works and how teachers can use that knowledge to choose strategies that tap into the brain's normal processes.

In just over 100 pages, Willis deals with a wide range of educational issues. For example, she describes how the brain stores information and develops networking connections between related data. This, she writes, can help teachers understand why students sometimes have difficulty learning vocabulary. Unless a student is shown the relationships between existing knowledge and the new vocabulary, the student's brain stores the new information in isolation. Storing information in isolation then makes it more difficult for the brain to retrieve the information later. Conversely, if the student understands the connections between previous knowledge and new knowledge, the brain literally networks the information, which makes it easier for the brain to retrieve the information in the future. Willis describes how teachers can use graphic organizers, visualization, and role-play to help students make those cognitive connections.

An entire chapter is dedicated to understand how stress affects the brain and how schools and families can work together to reduce stress on students and help students handle the stress they do feel. Another chapter is dedicated to discussing many good assessment techniques. In this context, rather than merely describing how to write rubrics, Willis describes how rubrics help students' brains develop.

Of course, in describing so many neurological functions, it is necessary for Willis to use intimidating terms, such as dendrites, occipital lobes, and prefrontal cortex. Willis does a remarkable job, however, explaining such terms. And in case the reader forgets what a term means mid-book, the book includes a handy glossary.

I found Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning to be a surprisingly understandable, yet treasure-packed resource. And its readability and short length mean one can easily read it over a weekend.

Best of all, the book could meet the needs of a wide audience. Willis has explained her ideas well enough that preservice teachers could easily understand the material; in fact, I can see this book becoming popular in teacher education programs. At the same time, the book offers such a unique perspective and valuable information that even veteran teachers are likely to benefit from investing their time in reading it.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Deve; 1ST edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416603700
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416603702
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Judy Willis, a board-certified neurologist and teacher combined her training in neuroscience with her teacher education training and the past ten years of classroom teaching to become a leading authority in the field of parenting and teaching strategies derived from learning-centered brain research.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for fifteen years before returning to university to obtain her Teaching Credential and Masters of Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught elementary and middle school for ten years before becoming an international lecturer and workshop leader about brain-research correlated strategies that ignite successful learning, memory, and transferable understanding.

Dr. Willis is an authority in brain research regarding learning and the brain and currently dedicates her time to presenting information about classroom and parenting strategies derived from brain research at educational conferences, professional development workshops, and to parent groups and nationally and internationally. She has been a Distinguished Lecturer at ASCD national conferences, writes extensively for professional educational journals, and was honored as a Finalist for Distinguished Achievement Award for her educational writing by the Association for Educational Publishers. "Ask Dr. Judy" is a regular webinar feature offered free to all through ASCD.org

Dr. Willis is the author of six books, including five books for educators, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning, Brain Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom, Teaching the Brain to Read, and Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies That Change Student Attitudes and Get Results. Her book Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, Talented, for educators and parents was a finalist for the 2010 USA Book News Magazine 2010 Best Book Awards in Education/Academic Category.

Her first book for parents, How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Based Ways to Ignite Learning and Increase School Success, with foreword by Goldie Hawn, provides parents with the research-supported tools to help their children learn in ways best suited for their interests, learning styles and strengths.

Her books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. I

Dr. Willis is a research consultant and member of the board of directors for the Hawn Foundation, an international foundation developed and directed by Goldie Hawn. She contributed to the writing of the Foundation's MindUp curriculum of activities for teachers to do with children to increase their emotional control, stress management, and attentive focus. Link to Neurology Now: Journal of American Academy of Neurology for the cover article featuring the collaboration of Dr. Willis and Goldie Hawn to bring neuroscience into classrooms and teach children about Building Better Brains. http://journals.lww.com/neurologynow/Fulltext/2010/06020/Golden_Opportunity.17.aspx

When not consulting, writing books, or making presentations, Dr. Willis is a home winemaker and writes a wine column.

Dr. Willis' Website: www.RADTeach.com Connect from this website to links to her books, articles, and presentation schedule.

Additional Ways to Connect with Dr. Judy Willis


Dr. Judy Willis' PSYCHOLOGY TODAY Online Staff Posts at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching

"Brain Owner's Manual" Dr. Willis believes that, "Children who understand that genius is not limited by genes. When children discover how their brains learn and that they can change their brain wiring to change their intelligence, they are motivated to persevere with homework, studying, and setbacks because they understand can take control of their emotional, social, and academic success."

For this reason, Dr. Willis wrote her first "Brain Owner's Manual" article to help parents and educators explain to children the power they have to change their own brains and change their intelligence. She is currently writing a series of "Brain Owner's Manual" books for parents and one for educators that are age-group specific. Link to her article called, What You Should Know About Your Brain:
http://www.radteach.com/page1/page8/page45/page45.html

"Meet Dr Judy Willis, EDUTOPIA Staff Blogger" View All Posts http://www.edutopia.org/user/19536

Dr. Judy Willis's Educational Consultant EDge Webpage for the Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD) at http://edge.ascd.org/service/displayKickPlace.kickAction?u=19069219&as=127586&b

Judy Willis Author's Page on ASCD
http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Authors/Judy_Willis.aspx?id=31085086001&nvid=a22b1


View Podcast Interviews and Webinars With the Author

TEDx Video Dr. Judy Willis Jan 2013 ASB Mumbai, India. Topic "Dr. Judy Willis: Video Game Model for Motivated Learning' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8TPRec6OCY

Australia ABC TV show Lateline Judy Willis, MD interview Apr 20, 2012 "Neuroscientist explains how to stimulate young brains". Link with video & transcript http://bit.ly/IeW5H1

Video Series of my brief responses to questions interviews at St Michaels University School April 2013. Full "Learning & the Brain" Series at http://bit.ly/13Ncewr"Ask Dr. Judy" is a regular webinar feature offered free to all through ASCD.org

Dr. Willis is one of Edutopia's "Big Thinkers on Education" with video interviews
http://www.edutopia.org/big-thinkers

Big Thinkers: Dr. Judy Willis on the Science of Learning
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6FqAiAbUFs


View 7 Video Chapters of Dr. Judy Willis' "Big Thinker in Education" Interview: http://www.edutopia.org/big-thinkers-judy-willis-neuroscience-learning-video
The Big Thinker video interview is divided into 7 1-2 minute segments by topic. From "Big Thinker" Judy Willis page http://www.edutopia.org/big-thinkers, scroll down the bar to the right of the video/photo and you can open each section by name, such as Judy Willis on the Science of Learning (video).

Meet Judy Willis, Neurologist Turned Educator (1 min 24 sec)
The Science of Boredom (1 min 36 sec)
Creating Curiosity in the Classroom (0 min 52 sec)
Focusing Students' Attention in the Classroom (1 min 22 sec)
The Importance of Creating a Safe Environment (1 min 32 sec)
Lessons Learned from Video Games (2 min 52 sec)
Preparing Students for the 21st Century (1 min 53 sec)



Author Interviews about her books:
Ignite Student Learning: http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Authors/Judy_Willis.aspx?id=31085086001&nvid=a7b1

Inclusion/Differentiation Strategies: http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Authors/Judy_Willis.aspx?id=31085086001&nvid=a7b1

Teaching the Brain to Read: SCROLL DOWN TO Teaching the Brain to Read at: http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/ASCD_Talks_With_an_Author/ASCD_Talks_With_an_Author_(main).aspx


YouTube

Videos on YouTube: Put "Judy Willis" and key words like "brain" "syn-naps" into YouTube and you'll find several short topical videos of and several by Dr. Willis. For example: The Marshmallow Test is at
http://edge.ascd.org/_Dr-Judy-Willis-on-marshmallows-as-a-predictor-of-a-child39s-future-/video/881080/127586.html

Presentations & Lectures on YouTube: under "Judy Willis" you'll find full presentations she has done for professional educators. One about inquiry learning in science for the State of Tennessee Department of Education and one about brain research-based teaching strategies in English and Spanish, that she gave in Buenos Aires.


Radio, Video Interviews and Podcasts

The Parent's Journal Public Radio Program and Podcast 06-03-09 Topic: 
Middle Schoolers Who Love to Learn - Dr. Judy Willis' portion is in second half of the program at: http://www.parentsjournal.com/podcast/229/0603.mp3

Dr. Judy Willis video interview about what brain research suggests for classroom teaching strategies (also applicable for parents)
Windows Media version
http://stream.luxmedia501.com/?file=realimpact/ascd/talks_w_author/wma_willis.wma&type=wma
or for QuickTime version: http://stream.luxmedia501.com/?file=realimpact/ascd/talks_w_author/qta_willis.mov&type=mov

Dr. Judy Willis video interview about how to differentiate instruction for neuro-logical teaching, improved memory, and responsive student behavior in motivated students
http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Authors/Judy_Willis.aspx?id=31085086001&nvid=a13b1

Dr. Judy Willis interview/video ASCD about topics in the book, Teaching the Brain to Read
http://video.ascd.org/services/player/bc

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasure-packed remarkable resource September 7, 2008
Format:Paperback
Reading a book on pedagogy written by a neurologist sounds like as much fun as reading a standardized test manual, but Dr Judy Willis's Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning truly surprised me. Willis has written an excellent book for helping teachers understand how to teach in ways that engage students' brains and lead to deeper learning. The short text is easy to understand, yet filled with valuable information for teachers.
Teachers must constantly make decisions about which teaching method to use at any given point. Complicating the decision-making, however, is the plethora of methods from which teachers may choose, and the fact that proponents of so many different methods claim to have scientific research to support their ideas. Nevertheless, the task of choosing might be a little easier after reading Willis's book. While many texts focus on advising teachers how to implement a specific teaching strategy, Willis focuses on helping teachers understand how the human brain works and how teachers can use that knowledge to choose strategies that tap into the brain's normal processes.
In just over 100 pages, Willis deals with a wide range of educational issues. For example, she describes how the brain stores information and develops networking connections between related data. This, she writes, can help teachers understand why students sometimes have difficulty learning vocabulary. Unless a student is shown the relationships between existing knowledge and the new vocabulary, the student's brain stores the new information in isolation. Storing information in isolation then makes it more difficult for the brain to retrieve the information later.
Read more ›
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Was this review helpful to you?
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise Your Brain: Buy this book! September 24, 2006
Format:Paperback
Dr. Willis is a unique blend of common sense, humor and brains. Judy is a rarity being both a "brain" doctor, and a classroom teacher. She cares about her students, and works tirelessly with her students and on-going research. This book gives you interesting medical facts, then applies it directly to classroom strategies.

I've always taught using a multi-sensory approach, but now I know why I do it! This book will back up what you know--and what you do in the classroom. I've had a lot of fun "surprising" the brains of my students using Judy's ideas. Now I have this book, my own neurologist/teacher in my backpack of tricks.

PS I love the glossary!

Joan P. Brown
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You knew that it was true, but this book explains why December 21, 2007
Format:Paperback
I am so excited to finally be able to see what is going on inside my teenage student's brains.

As teachers, we are aware that presentation is a key element of what we do to engage our students. How did we get that usually reluctant student to answer a question; what made the class get so excited about our lesson today. Dr. Willis presents some very practical yet eye-opening details on how to engage students before you have even begun your lesson.

As often as I am reminded of how short the typical adolescent attention span is, Dr. Willis offers us a scientific explanation for why it is true. I find myself excited at the prospect that I can hack (a la computer hacking) my classroom presentation to achieve success in the classroom in a more consistent way.

Judy has changed my teaching forever. Thanks Judy!
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Was this review helpful to you?
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Board-certified neurologist and middle school teacher Judy Willis, M.D. presents Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning, a guide for K-12 educators that combines the latest findings of learning-centered brain research with practical experience in the classroom. The result is a resource for helping students achieve their full academic potential that covers memory, learning, and test-taking success; strategies to corner student attention; how to mitigate the negative effects and draw benefits from the positive effects of stress and emotion in learning; and much more. A glossary, bibliography for further reading, and index round out this invaluable supplement to enhancing one's grade school curriculum for maximum effectiveness.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope is on every page October 17, 2006
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
This book also helped me find the missing pieces of the puzzle. I don't usually read my mom's books but I read this one. It is interesting and fun to read.
Comment | 
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Teachers February 26, 2010
Format:Paperback
I am reading this book for a graduate level education course. I have been a teacher for 7 years and this book is really making me rethink the way I teach. The book gives you an awareness of how the brain works and how the brain remembers. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS BOOK! April 12, 2008
By e-bev
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! It clarifies how the brain works when a person learns, and it shares many ways in which learning can be enhanced. I wrote all over in mine, and I'm ordering another copy for my principal. Now, I need a syn-nap. THANK YOU, Dr. Willis!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Research-based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning February 27, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very readable and useful little book by a classroom teacher who has also had a career in neurology.

Cognitive Science is a particular interest of mine. I am always interested in brain-based theories of how to engage students in the classroom learning experience. Perhaps because this volume is already six years old, I didn't find any information that was new to me, but I enjoyed reviewing the concepts put forth here.

This is a good introductory book. It is practical, straight-forward and easy to understand.

Kim Burdick
Stanton, DE
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
This book is so well written and has practical knowledge for educators and those that just like to understand how the brain works. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Melody Beitzel
5.0 out of 5 stars ID
If you teach, you need to read this book. It showed just how learning is achieved. Thanks. Great book. I would not be without it.
Published 9 months ago by Susan E. Pattishall
5.0 out of 5 stars A Handbook for Teachers!
This book was very easy to read and reference (for research or while planning lessons). A must for all teachers, infant to adults!
Published 10 months ago by Dana Amelle-Miles
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Easy Read for Educators!
A fabulous book for any educator! If you want to be more than a warm seat in the teacher's chair - A must Read!
Published 13 months ago by Elizabeth Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book. Interesting information. Have shared with others who have also found it to be a stimulating book. Easy to read yet thought provoking.
Published 14 months ago by Catherine M. Prindle
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This is a quick read with good, practical information. I read it while working on my Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Published 14 months ago by Toasty Arepa
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Worthwhile
The information here is invaluable. Dr. Willis shares deep insight, understanding, and information. If you only read one educational book this year, make it this one! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Deborah Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Educator Must Read
Every educator should read this book. It gives a wonderful perspective on learning and current brain research from a gal who does both occupations. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sweetie Pete Crow
5.0 out of 5 stars This book helped with my Thesis Project!
I bought this book as part of a class. There is a lot of great information available in this book about about how the brain works when learning new concepts. Read more
Published on September 18, 2011 by Zanke
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo- with a hand clap!
I have been interested in Memory, Learning, and Long-Term Memory for some time now. I think that this book does what was long overdue. Read more
Published on May 11, 2011 by Stephen Pellerine
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